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Jim Cox Report: May 2004

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

May was a month of several and diverse honors for the Midwest Book Review.

I got a call from the Wisconsin State Historical Society. They were interested in our Wisconsin Bookwatch library newsletter for their collections. Apparently they would like to have a copy of anything and everything published on, in, or about Wisconsin. I gave the director the nickel tour of the Midwest Book Review and regaled him with our history. The end result of our rather extended conversation was that I agreed to donate all of our library newsletter archives to the Wisconsin State Historical Society if they would make them available to future scholarship and/or research requests.

A few days later one of their folk showed up at my door. I took him down to the basement. And he loaded up 23 years worth of our library newsletters which, in addition to the Wisconsin Bookwatch, also included The Bookwatch; the Children's Bookwatch; and the Library Bookwatch.

The next day I got another phone call confirming their safe arrival and informing me that after looking them over their staff is now busy microfilming the whole collection -- with the originals being placed in some kind of humidity controlled storage for fragile paper documents.

Incidently, I have a great many linear feet of basement storage shelving freed up now!

This past month has been unusual in that I got three very different phone calls from around the world. The first was from a publisher in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil who found our Midwest Book Review website and wanted my advice on his expansion from publishing for the Hispanic market in the U.S. to publishing English translations of their Spanish titles for a broader American readership.

Then a few days later I got a call from Paris, France. That was a publisher wanting my input on their plans to acquire a U.S. distributor for some of their English translation titles. They apparently heard one of my overseas broadcasts (I do a monthly shortwave radio book review commentary called KNLS Bookwatch).

And then yesterday I got a call from London, England. This was from an associate producer for the BBC! She also had found out about me and the Midwest Book review from my overseas broadcasts, visited my website, and was calling to see if I'd be interested (or know of anyone else) to provide some cultural and social commentary for the BBC on the American body politic during the presidential race from now through November.

It all got me feeling quite international!

I also received a very nice invitation from Anita Halton (Northern California Book Publicity & Marketing Association) to be an "honored guest" at this year's Annual Publicity Tea scheduled for June 4th in Chicago at the 410 Club in the Wrigley building. This is an annual get-together for publicity directors from major publishing houses and publicity firms from across the country and the idea is for this August group to meet with prominent media.

Unfortunately I had to decline because of some health issues that limit my traveling these days. But it was such an honor to be asked! I think I'm getting old enough and long enough in the tooth that I'm being ascribed to with some kind of "honored elder" status within the publishing community.

But enough self-aggrandizing office gossip. Let's get on to what folks really subscribe to the Jim Cox Report for -- those famous (and occasionally infamous) tips, techniques, and advice for writers and publishers:

1. Annie Marrs from Bastrop, Texas, is the author of a book I reviewed called "Love: My Search For Truth". My review said (in part) "An inspirational collection of thoughts about love. Emotionally inspiring and heart-healing." I sent off a copy of my review and that well-known "publisher notification" letter (this is a self-published title) to Annie and never thought any more about it. Until I got a flyer from her in the mail. And that's the tip I want to share with you.

What Annie had done was create an 8 " by 11" flyer announcing a book signing. Very simple, the flyer has the title, then under that "a book by Annie". Then under that the words Book Signing. Then under that the date information. Then under that the place and address of the signing (The Book Basket). Then under that and at the right-hand bottom of the flyer that quote from me and attributed to Midwest Book Review. These columns of info are center right on the page -- giving room for a cartoon of a small person on a stool holding up an enormous fountain pen.

Annie had not let that positive review go to waste. She used it in a promotional flyer in connection to a scheduled book signing. The lesson is that anytime you have positive review quotes you can draw from, and you have a scheduled book signing, speech, panel discussion, or public appearance of any kind -- make yourselves a stack of simple flyers to promote the activity and to raise the profile of your book in the community where you live, work, or are simply passing through.

2. Dear Mr. Cox:

May I have permission to publish your very generous review of my book on other review sites? (RebeccasReads, for example) I know some reviewers don't allow this.

Victoria Randall
The Ring of the Dark Elves

What tends to set the Midwest Book Review apart from so many other book review venues is that we established a policy from the beginning that our reviews are not proprietary. Any author and/or any publisher can make what ever use of them they would deem to be of value in their efforts to promote, publicize, and market their books. Indeed, for several of our volunteer reviewers, the Midwest Book Review is a secondary venue for their work -- they having their own book review publications, online websites, and Amazon postings. They basically sign up with us to expand their readership pool for the reviews and commentaries they produce for their primary forum.

So if you get a good review from the Midwest Book Review -- use it to the hilt! If there are other websites where you can post it -- do so. If you didn't have an Amazon page when our review first ran and subsequently get one -- post it yourself on your Amazon page.

And as for reviewers in some other publication or venue wanting to limit your use of their review of your book -- if you were the one who furnished them with a complimentary review copy, then you have the right to use their review anywhere you can as an equitable quid-pro-quo for having furnished them with a free copy of your title.

If you haven't already done so, then read the various articles on book reviewing, book review ethics, and the book review process that I have posted for you in the "Publisher Advice" section of the Midwest Book Review website at

3. The Wilderness Within

My book of poems, The Wilderness Within, is in your hands. I hope that someone will review it.

Your review of my other book, The Dynamic Great Lakes is valued and appreciated very much. As a result of your review, many libraries have this book and it continues to sell well.

Barbara Spring .
The Dynamic Great Lakes

Barbara is demonstrating a very useful strategy when approaching a reviewer to review another book where that reviewer gave one of your earlier books a positive reception. Note the inclusion of a website as part of the signature information. That too, is something you should automatically include in your signature block when you post email or write snail-mail. It allows the recipient (in this case it was me) who couldn't quite remember you to click through and refresh their memories -- and give you a bit of advantage when trying to decide whether to accept or reject your review request this time around.

4. writes:

Dear Jim:

I believe, like you, that there are better avenues of travel than the traditional publishing houses (which would serve them right to one day become extinct). Since I now value your wisdom highly, may I respectfully request your opinion on Publish America? Would this company be considered what you called a specialty house?

I ask because in trying to get reviews I find self publishers stopped at the front doors. And I'm hoping that reviewers will not do the same with specialty houses or other.

Any information you can provide in this area would be GREATLY appreciated, as I'm sure you are incredibly busy and I both apologize and thank you (in advance) for taking up your valued time.

To which I responded:

Publish America isn't a specialty press. It is a Publish On Demand (POD) press. Authors provide manuscripts and a POD publisher turns them into finished books in what ever quantity the author can afford to pay. Publish American is just as good as most of them (you'll find a listing of other POD publishers in the "Publisher Resources" section of our Midwest Book Review website).

POD published titles are simply ignored by all the major and a good many of the minor book review publications. To go that route means that an author will have to mount their own marketing campaign and rely on such avenues as "Reader Reviews" and the like.

There are a few exceptions to the general rule of prejudice in the book review community. However, the Midwest Book Review is just such an exception, as is Foreword Magazine.

POD publishers are held in prejudice by reviewers because they exercise no editorial discretion and will publish any manuscript whose author is willing to pay them to turn it into a book.

It would be better for an author to take the time and effort to learn how to publish their own book under their own Publisher Name. There are several very good "how to" books on the subject. You'll find a number of them in the "Publisher's Bookshelf" section of the Midwest Book Review website.

For those authors who don't wish to invest the time, effort, and expense in becoming publishers as well as writers, then the POD houses are quite legitimate and some of them getting quite expert at turning out books that can visually match even the major houses in turns of physical appearance.

Thank you for your very kind words regarding our website and our efforts in behalf of the small press community. Reviewers like feedback every bit as much as authors and publishers!

Incidently, although our bylaws prohibit accepting money from authors or publishers (in order to avoid any conflict of interest issues), we did amend it a few months ago allowing authors and publishers who wanted to make a gesture of support for what we try to do here at the Midwest Book Review in behalf of the small press community to be able to donate postage stamps "for the cause". So if you'd like to send some stamps, feel free (but not obligated!).

In the meantime, I look forward to your book when it is eventually published!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

And of course, this now segues quite nicely into my favorite part of the "Jim Cox Report": The Friends of the Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Donators Honor Role Of Fame, Glory And Appreciation:

Chug Roberts - The Capitol.Net
Eve A. Wood - "Medicine, Mind and Meaning"
Chris Johnsen - Attitude Press
Dia L. Michels - Platypus Media, LLC
Andrea M. Rotondo - Omnibus Press/Schirmer Trade Books
Jan Louthain - Alexie Enterprises, Inc.
LeAnn R. Ralph - "Christmas in Dairyland"
David M. Beadle - "The Day the Trash Cam Out to Play"
Annie Marrs - "Love: My Search for Truth"
The Vegetarian Resource Group - "The Vegetarian Journal"
John Poly - Polykarpos Publishing
Emidra Publishing
Gary Palmatier - Larkfield Publishing
Mauris L. Emeka - "Cancer's Best Medicine"

So as we wrap up another issue of the "Jim Cox Report", I want to remind everyone that you can subscribe to this or any of our other online publications for free -- just send me an email and let me know what you want to be signed up for. Back issues of this and all of our on-line book review magazines are archived on the Midwest Book Review website as well.

Until next time! -- Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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